SLHS Department Update/October 2013

October 30, 2013 Speech, Languages & Hearing Sciences Department Chair Dr. Gail Ramsberger shared exciting updates on research and programs during the recent gathering, In the Child's Garden: A Celebration of 50 years of Early Childhood Philosophy and Service, recognizing faculty, students, alumni, and honored guests. 


Motor Speech Lab - Dr. Neeraja Sadagopan and her students are interested in motor learning and aging. Dr. Sadagopan utilizes utilizes kinematic and other physiologic measures of speech production to study age-related changes in language-motor interactions, and motor learning/plasticity in the speech system. The long-term goals of her research program are to apply the knowledge gained from studying speech production in normal aging to the study of how aspects of speech motor control and learning are affected by neurological disease.

Aphasia Lab - Dr. Gail Ramsberger and her doctoral student, Paula Messemer, are studying the use of technology in aphasia rehabilitation in an effort  to facilitate better transfer of research to clinical practice, and to enhance and extend rehabilitation via low cost, effective alternative delivery. 

Hearing Research LabDr. Kathyrn Arehart’s lab in collaboration with colleagues at Northwestern are studying how cognition interacts with hearing aid signal processing to develop better hearing aids for those with both hearing loss and poorer cognition.In the United States, 37 million individuals have sensorineural hearing loss, a number that is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades due to the aging of the American population. Because most hearing loss is not medically treatable, provision of hearing aids is the common recommendation for adults with hearing loss. Only 25% of individuals who are candidates for hearing aids wear them, and only 75% of those who do wear hearing aids report that they are satisfied with their communication ability.  In addition, hearing loss that remains untreated is associated with depression, social isolation, and reduced income.   Therefore, improving hearing aid treatment is a significant health need, especially among older adults who comprise the majority of adults with hearing loss.  

Neurodynamics Lab - Dr. Phillip Gilley conducts research on the development and plasticity of multisensory, cortical interactions in the brain.  He is interested in studying how sensory systems develop, and how modulation of multisensory processes affects the sensory pathways in the brain. Dr. Gilley’s approach to this research is through functional neurodynamics.  He employs several different brain imaging techniques to study sensory processes, including high-density EEG and evoked potentials (EPs/ERPs), functional MRI (fMRI), and magnetoencephalography (MEG).

National Center for Voice & Speech/CU - Dr. Lori Ramig and her colleagues at the National Center for Voice and Speech developed the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®) for patients with Parkinson disease and she has been the principal investigator of LSVT® treatment studies with over 15 years of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. This is the ONLY speech treatment for Parkinson’s disease that has been proven efficacy through a large clinical trial. LSVT is also being studied for application with other neurologic speech disorders secondary to Down Syndrome, MS, stroke, and cerebral palsy.


Summer Aphasia Intensive - The Summer Aphasia Intensive provides 2 hours/day, 5 days/wk of intensive one-on-one and small group therapy over the course of two weeks during the summer. This program is based on recent evidence showing greater gains are achieved with intensive vs. less intensive therapy schedules.  

Concussion Assessment & Rehabilitation Team - Clinical Assistant Professor Kathy Hardin has established a new clinical service that has provided screenings to more than 500 student athletes and followup services to ~10% who subsequently sustain a concussion.  MA-SLP students in this clinic are gaining experience in an new area of clinical expertise that they will be able to implement in K-12 educational settings.  

Transgender/Transsexual Voice -  Individuals who are transgender/ transsexual often elect to have voice/communication therapy to help them use their voice in a safe, efficient and effective way that fits their perception of gender appropriate.. Clinical Assistant Professor Jen Lewon works with students to address multiple aspects of communication for these clients, including vocal pitch, intonation and resonance, rate, loudness, articulation, and language/pragmatics/nonverbal communication.


Brain and Behavior Lab - Dr. Anu Sharma and her students  study the effects of auditory deprivation on cortical development and has discovered the critical period for implantation of cochlear implants.  These findings mean that children who are born deaf and who are given cochlear implants are  not having them implanted so that there is optimal development of the auditory pathways.

Child Language & Learning Lab - Dr. Pui Fong Kan and students working in The child language & learning lab are interested in language and cognitive development of  bilingual children who learn two languages at different times: one at home and one in school. She currently  works with Head Start programs in the San Franscisco area where there is a large population of Cantonese speaking children who are learning English in preschool.

Language & Sign Language lab -Brenda Schick a Professor, studies the development of literacy, cognition, and language in children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Currently, with colleagues from around the US, she obtained funding from the US Office of Education for a national research center to study literacy development in young deaf and hard of hearing children. As part of that work, she is developing innovative literacy interventions to mitigate the challenges that these children have in learning to read. Her work has shown that language skills are essential to the development of cognitive skills.

Marion Downs Center - Dr. Yoshinaga-Itano and her colleagues and students were instrumental in establishing clinical procedures as well as governmental legislation for universal newborn hearing screening. Children around the world now have their hearing screened at birth and those at risk receive followup services with the goal of initiating intervention by 3 months of age. Early identification and intervention of children with hearing impairments is changing the long term outcomes for this population. Dr. Yoshinaga-Itano is also studying issues related to maternal bonding, parental stress, social-emotional development & temperament and language development in children with hearing impairments. Together with colleagues at the Lena Foundation, she is working on a White House initiative that aims to provide early childhood services for all children in the country.




Hearing, Speech & language Screenings - Students in the Doctorate of Audiology and MA-SLP program provide preschool screenings to hundreds of children every year at local preschools and healthfairs.

 Write On! Clinical Assistant Professor Judy Brooke has developed this new clinical service for children who struggle with written language skills.  She guides MA-SLP students in techniques to address the language-bases of writing. The clinic runs an intensive program during the summers and a traditional program during the academic year.  Children in the Write On! program produce fun group projects such as collaboratively written stories, comic books and news articles.  Families are provided strategies that can be applied at home to academic learning.

Child Learning Center
In addition to Clinical Professor Susan Moore (Executive Director), Jessica Lugo (Program Director and Preschool Classroom Teacher) and Clinical Assistant Professor Amy Thrasher (toddler classroom teacher), the staff includes Family Resource Consultants, an Occupational Therapist, a bilingual (Spanish-English) SLP, Outreach Coordinator Barb Roscoe, and language/cultural consultant for El Grupo
In the last year the CLC has accomplished the following:

  • Toddler Group served 10 children and families and 10 MA-SLP students participated in delivery of services
  • Preschool served 25 children and families and 23 MA-SLP students
  • Story of Friendship (a program for children with Autism spectrum disorder and their typical peers aged 3-6; children engage in a play date interaction that emphasizes social interaction and communication via the Story Book Journey technique) served 24 children and families and 15 MA-SLP students
  • Space Camp & Perspectives (programs for older children with Autism spectrum disorders; portions of these programs are done in collaboration with the Temple Grandin School in Boulder ) served 24 children and families and 12 MA-SLP students
  • El Grupo (a program that aims to preserve native language and culture in Spanish speaking children while providing guidance to help families support their children in development of English and academic skills)  served 19 children in 12 families with 8 MA-SLP students
  • Pathways to Assessment of Learning served 8 families with 8 MA-SLP students
  • Preschool Screenings served 245 children at 4 preschools and 9News Healthfair with 12 MA-SLP students
  • CLC Community Outreach, directed by Barbara Roscoe, served 41 early childhood professionals

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